How to Become a Flight Attendant in Corporate Aviation

shutterstock_170548667Learning how to become a corporate flight attendant involves not only knowing safety and medical procedures on the aircraft, as is the focus in most airline flight attendant jobs, but also learning proper etiquette on a corporate aircraft, proper attire, how to prepare catering in an aircraft, order supplies and much more.

Here are some of the major differences between being a flight attendant in corporate aviation vs. with an airline:

  • Corporate jets, like the ones flown by Starbucks, Target or Pepsi, usually do not have a planned travel route. Airlines on the other hand follow a strict schedule to move passengers around the country and globe. Corporate flight attendants are employees of companies, large and small, and fly on corporate jets.
  • When you fly as a flight attendant on corporate jets, you may also want to become a contract flight attendant, very similar to running your own business. Contract flight attendants work for corporations and charter companies on an as-needed basis, build their own book of business and can accept and decline work.
  • Airline flight attendant training takes more time than training for those who want to become a flight attendant in corporate aviation.
  • Corporate flight attendants are expected to pay for their training out of their own pockets.
  • Corporate flight attendants are a ‘jack of all trades’ with each day usually different. Your employer may be the aircraft owner, government officials, executives, athletes, etc.
  • Apart from the flight crew, corporate flight attendants often work alone. You are often responsible for creating menus, catering and buying supplies for the aircraft.
  • The hours as a corporate flight attendant are usually much different. Rather than working a fixed schedule you can be on call 24/7 and put in far more hours in a single day.

Before you contact any aviation departments or apply for any jobs, make sure they are jobs for which you are certified and in which you have a genuine interest.

Being a flight attendant in corporate aviation is a great job, fun and worthwhile if you like to travel. You can also make a lot of money as a flight attendant in a private jet. So here’s some more background on how to become a flight attendant in corporate aviation, information on getting certified, tips and what to expect.

  • Flight Safety International (FSI), FACTSBeyond & Above and Corporate Flight Attendant Training & Global Consulting are four companies who can help you become a flight attendant. Training is required, and the cost is around $5,000 for initial training. You’ll pay another $2-3,000 for annual re-certification. Commercial airlines (a.k.a. “Part 121” – American Airlines, Southwest, Delta etc.) will pay for your training as a flight attendant, but you are expected to finance your own training for corporate and charter (a.k.a. “Part 91/135” – private jets). Do your research on the best training option for you. Better yet, find your “dream job” at your target company and find out who they hire as flight attendants. You should also look into taking culinary classes, etiquette classes, learning another language or finishing a college degree to position yourself well for that dream job.
  • Most big corporate employers who have their own flight departments (called “Part 135 operations”) and charter flight employers (“Part 91 operators”) prefer flight attendant candidates with some experience flying under their belt. Experience with commercial airlines will position you well for a corporate job, but years in customer service with high-end clients is also extremely helpful.
  • For former airline flight attendants, having your FAA certificate is a plus, but the best BizJetJobs.com employers tell us time and again that it must go hand-in-hand with corporate-specific training.
  • Corporate flying with C-level executives, sports teams and celebrities is seen as “high level” of responsibility and customer service. This means it can also be a whole other level of employment. Pay can be $350 to $500 a day ($650 internationally). You’ll stay in the best hotels with all of your expenses paid for from the time you leave until your return. When you are at your destination, you’ll still receive the $350/day or whatever you have negotiated, even when you’re not flying. If you are staying somewhere nice for multiple weeks, you can see how this can add up.
  • Contract flight attendants work freelance, meaning they can be called out by their agency to work flights for different companies. You won’t always be on the same type of aircraft – sometimes it may be a Gulfstream, sometimes a Challenger, Citation, etc.
  • Even though the passengers are “high end” (CEOs, the wealthy, entertainers, professional athletes), not every aircraft comes with full kitchen with china and champagne flutes. Some just don’t have the galley space, so things can be very bare bones: tumblers, wine glasses, utensils, that’s it.
  • Many flight attendants in corporate aviation put together a “Galley Kit.” If you Google this you can find discussions among corporate flight attendants on what is useful to have: a tong for plating, linens, place mats, doilies for presentation, etc.
  • As a flight attendant on a private jet, sometimes you’ll be flown out commercially to one city to be in position to fly the guest to or from another city (i.e. you live in Colorado, but the flight you are working departs out of LAX).

There is a lot of flexibility, and the ability to travel to exotic places. Catering experience is always helpful but not mandatory, since the FBOs (flight centers for the private jets) have names of caterers that can help you with meal selection. Flight attendants for private jets often undertake a special search for certain food items their passengers want, for example, going to bakeries for fresh bread, making sure they get a guest’s favorite pizza while they’re in Chicago, things like that. This is part of the adventure, and what makes some corporate flight attendants stand out.

Want more firsthand insight into how to become a flight attendant in corporate aviation? Susan Friedenberg, guest blogger and friend of BizJetJobs.com, is President & CEO of Corporate Flight Attendant Training & Global Consulting. She has been a corporate flight attendant for the last 29 years flying both as a contract flight attendant with a coast to coast clientele list and as a full time flight attendant for several well-known companies. Read her post on Flight Attendant Interviewing Tips That Land The Job here.

Join the thousands of flight attendants who have launched their careers on BizJetJobs.com. Start your search, post a profile and use our tips and tools for the best flight attendant jobs in corporate aviation.